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Ollie Otter gives tips on booster seat usage

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Judge Chris King, Cindy Richey with the Mississippi Safety Services, Ollie the Otter and Judge Joe Portrey spent Thursday morning informing school children and their parents on a new booster seat law at Loyd Star Attendance Center.

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Judge Chris King, Cindy Richey with the Mississippi Safety Services, Ollie the Otter and Judge Joe Portrey spent Thursday morning informing school children and their parents on a new booster seat law at Loyd Star Attendance Center.

Mississippi’s new booster seat mascot, Ollie the Otter, visited kindergarten through second grade students at Loyd Star Attendance Center to share booster seat safety tips Thursday morning.

The presentation is part of the Mississippi Safety Services organization’s goal to inform parents and children about a new booster seat law.

The new state law requires that children 4 to 7 years old and under 4 feet, 9 inches and/or less than 65 pounds use a booster seat when riding in an automobile.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, too many young children are moved too early to regular seating and seatbelts. Booster seats help “boost” them up enough for the belt to fit snugly and hold them in the event of a crash.

Vehicle crashes kill more children than all childhood diseases. “Buckling up is like a vaccine that protects a child,” said Cindy Richey, a presenter from Mississippi Safety Services Inc.

National Safety Council reports indicate that Mississippi has a high traffic death rate compared to other states. Crashes are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

The Ollie the Otter campaign is an attempt to alleviate this problem and educate the community on proper seatbelt use, according to a MSS press release.

“It’s a very interactive program,” said Richey. “It’s also geared at educating parents, not just students.”

During the program, children are taught how to properly use a seatbelt. Students were measured to show height differences between those who need to be in a booster seat and those who just need a seatbelt. Students also were reminded to sit in the back seat. Sitting in the backseat is twice as safe as the front seat for children, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration.

Richey believes the message got through to children and parents alike Thursday.

“A number of parents said that they learned a lot and plan on getting a booster seat as soon as possible,” Richey said.

The children were enthusiastic as well, according to Richey.

“The kids responded really well. And they learned quite a bit as well.”

Besides the Ollie the Otter presentation, the MSS also conducts defensive driving school classes.